The year of transition begins. The year of a completely blank canvas is now on me. I am not panicked. I am not panicked. I am not panicked. (My therapist said if I repeat that phrase three times everything will be okay.) Read more
20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Phil. 1:20-21)
To reach that level of determination is a matter of the will, not of debate or of reasoning. It is absolute and irrevocable surrender of the will at that point. (Oswald Chambers)
With clenched jaw and tightened fists I simply can’t repeat, “I surrender” enough to actually surrender. If the goodness of God is to come into my life, it isn’t by my will. It’s not my “effort” in some way, meaning I will “get it done or else.”
My “effort” is to willingly surrender my moments to the Lord and then invite him into those moments. I can’t be in “this” moment and then think about what God could do in the next moment. I must invite him into this moment… and then wait. Allow the Spirit to come in and do with that moment as he wills.
We need to move from “willFULLness” to willINGness.” Surrender. It’s not our “great efforts.” It is his divine goodness.
Allow God into your moments. This moment.
“Our ambivalence about surrender to God is based on the illusory security of the kingdom of self in relation to the apparent risk of the kingdom of God. God terrifies humans. In the words of Louis Evely, ‘He is total self-denial. He is entirely directed toward another… He knows no rest, no satisfaction, no withdrawal within himself.’ We, on the other hand, have a deeply ingrained tendency to rely on ourselves. We want love without sacrifice — without the risk and expense of the surrender of self-control and determination. God cannot accept such a bargain.”
— David Benner, Desiring God’s Will (p. 39)
The particular reading guide I am using for Lent breaks down a reading of the early chapters of Romans. I really don’t like breaking down the first three chapters into “bite size” pieces because it really leads to bad small group discussions.
If we stick with Romans 1, the inevitable discussion turns to sexual sin. And that chapter gets camped on. Then, because we’re not Jews, we have no idea what the second chapter is about, so we land in chapter 3 and have no idea how the three tie together.
We can camp on chapter 1 and rage away at all kinds of sexual sin. Then, I’ve seen people camp on 2:1 to rage against those who rage against the sexual sin of Romans 1.
Both miss the point. Actually, let me correct that. Both takes actually MAKE the point of Romans 3. Both arguments fall right into Paul’s trap. This is what he draws out so he can make the point: No one is righteous.
So, we can rage away at the sexual decadence of our culture and sit in judgment. Then, we come to these words:
There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.
Or, we can rage at people who “sit in judgment,” then we come to these words:
All have turned away… there is no one who does good, not even one.
We need to all understand this: we stand condemned without the grace of God. Be offended. That’s not a bad thing. Be mad at me for saying it.
I. Do. Not. Care.
You know why? Because I stand in need of grace. I admit it. I have been lost. I have been self-righteous. I still battle. And without the grace of God and my submission to my King, I will stand condemned.
Grace has come. My King has saved me. So… I submit to my King. I submit all of my brokenness, sexual and otherwise. I submit my self-righteousness. And I ask for HIS agenda in my life.
My broken thinking won’t save me, nor will it give me the purest joy possible. So, it gets surrendered.
If you are reading through Romans on the same guide, I invite you to read all the way through the first three chapters in one sitting. Get the scope. Feel the heat. Fall down before God begging for grace.
We don’t like to say it in so many words. After all, he might actually exist and if that were true… he wouldn’t like it if we told him his ways were messed up.
So, we go with, “The Church is messed up. Christians are messed up. Religion is messed up.”
Ezekiel 18 pulls no punches. It’s not God. It’s you.
25 But you say, “My Lord’s way doesn’t measure up.” Listen, house of Israel, is it my ways that don’t measure up? Isn’t it your ways that don’t measure up? (Ez. 18:25, CEB)
Prophets can be so rude. How DARE someone say I am the one with problem!
The Word draws us to some very uncomfortable conclusions. No wonder we stay away from the prophets! We love to pick and chose our verses so we can focus on the God of love (and then use our definition of love rather than care about God’s view of love). But God’s view of love is for us to get the obstacles out of the way and step into true abundance. We think we know abundance, but we don’t. We think we know what is best for us… and we don’t.
But what does God know anyway?
31 Abandon all of your repeated sins. Make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. Why should you die, house of Israel? 32 I most certainly don’t want anyone to die! This is what the LORD God says. Change your ways, and live! (Ez. 18:31-32, CEB)